Breathing Life into a Stanwell Sterling Silver Banded 126 Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked the next pipe up from an auction out of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The brand the shape caught his eye. The condition of the pipe also was a big plus. The markings on the pipe are on the underside of the shank. The first stamp reads 126 which is the shape number. That is followed by Stanwell over Made in Denmark. The silver band is stamped Stanwell over Sterling Silver.  The shape of the bowl is what I would call a horn. It is flared at the top of the bowl into an open bowl. There is a plateau finish on the top and the inner edge of the bowl is sanded smooth with a slight bevel that is set off by the plateau above and around it. The finish is smooth, well grained and shiny. It is dirty so it is hard to know the exact condition of the finish under the grime. The application of a silver band seems to pinch the shank like a tight belt around the waste of the pipe and acts good transition between shank and the saddle stem flared shapes. The stem is acrylic with a Silver Crown S off center on the top of the saddle. There is a light tooth chatter on both sides near the button but otherwise it is in excellent condition. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took close up photos of the rim top from various angles to show the general condition of the bowl and rim. The first photo shows the thin cake in the bowl clean inner rim edge. The photos give a clear picture of the bowl sides and rim edges.Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the beauty of the grain and the condition of the bowl.The underside of the shank is stamped Stanwell over Made in Denmark. The silver band is stamped Stanwell Sterling. There is a Silver Crown S on the top of the saddle stem slightly off to the left side. The stamping is very readable. The photos of the stem show the condition of the acrylic stem on both sides. The first one shows top side with a clean undamaged view (slight chatter visible in person) and the second shows the chatter on the underside of the stem.I knew that my old friend the late Bas Stevens had written a bit about the designer of the shape on his listing that is on the rebornpipes blog so I looked it up https://rebornpipes.com/2013/09/03/stanwell-shapes-compiled-by-bas-stevens/). On the list Bas states that the 126 shape is the same shape as the 125 but with plateau top. This horn shaped freehand was designed by Tom Eltang.

I also found out on the web through a variety of sites that the Stanwell Sterling Smooth pipes came in a nice variety of Stanwell’s signature shapes, finished in a golden-brown stain and polished to a high gloss. The sites stated that these beautiful briars were accented with silver bands which make for a nice contrast against the shimmering black acrylic stems.

Knowing that the pipe was designed by Tom Eltang added some interest to the pipe for me. He is a premier designer with amazing looking pipes of his own and in the Stanwell line. I turned my attention to the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff cleaned the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime on the finish. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the plateau rim top and also of the stem surface. The bowl and the rim top look good. The inner edge of the rim was smooth and had some darkening on the back side of the beveled edge. The plateau top looks very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show how clean the stem was. There were no tooth marks or chatter on either side of the stem.  I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. I reads 126 (the shape number) and Stanwell over Made in Denmark. The silver band is like a tight belt with a flare of briar above and a flare of acrylic below. The band is stamped Stanwell Sterling and the Silver Crown S is golden on the stem top.The mortise was lined with a Delrin tube that allowed the Delrin tenon to slide easily into the shank of the pipe. The photo below shows the lining in the shank and the Delrin tenon.There was a faded portion on the back right side of the bowl. The stain had faded out and left a light stripe on the backside of the bowl. I sanded the inside beveled edge of the rim and stained both areas with a Maple stain pen.I wet sanded the briar with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl surface down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. Once I finished the exterior of the briar was clean and the grain really stood out. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a coat of “No Oxy Oil” distributed by Briarville Pipe Repair that I am experimenting with. I wiped it down and set it aside to dry.   Once again I am excited to be on the homestretch with beautiful Stanwell Sterling 126 pipe. The fact that the design is a Tom Eltang design is an additional bonus. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the acrylic. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The beautifully grained finish and the plateau rim top looks really good with the interesting grain patterns standing out on the shape. The Sterling Silver band, Silver Crown S, the grain and the polished black acrylic stem went really well together. This Horn shape plateau Freehand was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has that classic Danish look that catches the eye. The combination of various brown stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 7/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes store. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

3 thoughts on “Breathing Life into a Stanwell Sterling Silver Banded 126 Freehand

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